Monday, October 27, 2008

Let Them Eat Pumpkin!

Ever since reading the comments on Friday's apple cake recipe, I've been trying to envision a scenario in which I'd ever utter the phrase: "what I'm really craving is pumpkin-oriented things." I can't. I have an 0n-again-off-again relationship with pumpkin at best. And, in fact, avoided it altogether up until a few years ago. Frankly, pumpkin anything just plain freaked me out.

Then, in November of 2005, my friend V passed on her recipe for pumpkin cranberry bread to me ... with the perplexing preface that: "its a great way to use up left-over pumpkin!" Immediately I thought: "who the hell has left-over pumpkin?!" Swayed by the inclusion of all my favorite warm spices and my deep affection for all things cranberry - I cast my fears aside and went out and bought my first can of pumpkin. I've been making this bread ever since.

V's Pumpkin Cranberry Bread:

  • 1 cup of canned solid-pack pumpkin
  • scant 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup of brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/4 vegetable oil
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour (I used 1 cup of whole wheat and 1 cup regular.)
  • 2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1/4 tsp. baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp. ground ginger
  • 1/4 tsp. ground cloves
  • 1/4 tsp. ground nutmeg
  • 1 cup of washed, drained and picked-over fresh or frozen cranberries
  • 1/2 cup of chopped toasted pecans, optional
Pre-heat your oven to 350 degrees and butter an 8 inch loaf pan.

Place the flour in a large mixing bowl and to it add the baking powder, salt, baking soda, cinnamon, ginger, cloves and nutmeg. Whisk well with a wire whisk to combine. Reserve.

In the bowl of your standing electric mixer combine the pumpkin, sugars, water, eggs and oil, using the flat beater attachment. (Alternately, you can use a hand held electric mixer.) Add in the flour and spice mixture, 1/3 at a time, and beat until just combined. Remove the bowl from the mixer and add the cranberries and pecans, stirring by hand to incorporate.

Smooth the batter into the prepared loaf pan and bake in the middle of the oven for 1 hour and 15 minutes or until a tester inserted into the loaf comes out clean. (Baking time will vary by oven so don't let the bread go unattended! My loaf was finished in an hour.) Cool in the pan on a wire rack for 10 minutes, then turn bread out onto the rack and continue cooling. Bread may be made 4 days ahead and kept covered and chilled. I hope you'll try it!

Apart from the inclusion of the whole wheat flour, and reducing the white sugar just a bit, I really didn't alter this recipe. The original calls for 2 cups of all-purpose flour and you could certainly go with that if you like. I could have chosen to swap out the sugars for agave nectar, but decided against it in this instance. If you're up for a total recipe make-over, by all means have at it.

The resulting loaf has a deliciously light crumb, and the combination of the warm spices and tart cranberries is delightful. Not to mention that, as the loaf bakes, your house will be filled with the aroma of every wonderful holiday you've ever had. Its intoxicating. Personally, I like this bread straight up with no adornment. Its great for breakfast, or as a snack with a cup of tea ... or ... you could do as the husband did and fancy it up for dessert.

While I have yet to become a total convert, I do adore this bread. Thank you, V! Who knows, I might even be moved to try the Pumpkin Butterscotch Pie featured in this month's issue of Bon Appetite. The recipe calls for the addition of some scotch ... and sure, if you dump a bunch of scotch into it ... I might be able to choke down a piece. Stranger things have happened. Pass the scotch!

Ironically, after making this bread, I'm now in possession of some left-over pumpkin. In a fit of lunacy I seem to have purchased the largest can of pumpkin imaginable. Oh well, I'm nothing if not a gracious hostess - so stay tuned for more pumpkin-oriented deliciousness. The people will have their pumpkin! I think I smell a series in the making ...

Bon appetite!


The Bear said...

Fabulous recommendation -- will be making your pumpkin bread this afternoon! Thanks, Diva for indulging us pumpkin-lovin' folk!

Sass said...

Will you bring this to our blogger-wine-conference? ;)

The Diva on a Diet said...

This one's for you Bear ... and there's more to come! Got to use up that pumpkin, and I aim to please. I think you'll love this bread. :)

Sass - but of course. This bread travels beautifully! ;)

V. said...

Thanks Diva! I love this recipe. The cranberries pop in your mouth like flavorful little bombs.

The Diva on a Diet said...

Flavor bombs ... exactly, V! Thank you for introducing me to the wonders of pumpkin. I adore this bread! :)

Penelope said...

I LOVE pumpkin and will eat it in any form. I highly recommend this recipe for pumpkin bread from Kathleen King's "Kathleen's Bakeshop Cookbook":

I ALWAYS add dried cranberries to this. I'll be whipping up a few loaves for the upcoming Halloween sleepover at our favorite HTC shelter!


2 c. granulated sugar

1 c. vegetable oil

4 eggs

2 c. mashed fresh pumpkin or 1 16 oz. can solid-pack pumpkin

3 c. all-purpose flour

2 tsp baking soda

½ tsp. salt

1 tsp. ground cinnamon

1 tsp. ground cloves

1 tsp. ground nutmeg

½ tsp. ground allspice

¼ c. water

1 c chopped walnuts

Preheat oven to 350 degress. Grease two 9x5x3 inch loaf pans.
In a large bowl, mix all ingredients except nuts with an electric mixer. Stir in chopped nuts. Pour batter evenly into prepared pans.
Bake for 1 hour, or until center springs back with lightly touched.

Yield: 2 loaves

Enjoy! xoxoxo, Ski Goddess

Deb said...

Well I thought I posted something here last night but it has disappeared in cyberspace :(

I am definitely of the "afraid of pumpkin" vein, it is not my favorite fall flavor for sure. I could be won over with this bread recipe but there is no pie of the pumpkin variety that will ever get my heart. I am more of the apple or mince for Thanksgiving kind of gal.


The Diva on a Diet said...

Hi Penelope! I'm sure the HT clients will be delighted with that bread, it looks excellent. Love the addition of the dried cranberries too. Nice!

LOL, Deb, I'm with you on your pie comment. Thanks, but no thanks! ;)

Penelope said...

CORRECTION: I wrote "dried cranberries" when in fact I use frozen "fresh" cranberries. I also love cranberries and always freeze lots of them in the winter to have on hand throughout the year.